They have defied the odds.
When they first started, no one gave TNA Wrestling (then known as NWA TNA) much of a chance to compete with WWE. They started out as a weekly show on pay-per view, which had never really been done before. They brought in Toby Keith, and pro football players to try and increase interest. They brought in legends like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Jim Duggan to try and keep old school fans interested. And, they also had some great performers like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels that could keep fans of actual good technical wrestling captivated.
It’s been a rough decade, but TNA Wrestling finally seems to have really hit their stride in terms of putting on a good wrestling product. They have some really good talent, like Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, MVP, Eric Young, The Hardys, Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, The Wolves, and EC3. I believe their move to Destination America has made their product more watchable than their stint on Spike TV.
Just as they experience upwards movement in terms of their quality, reports have surfaced that the company has been paying their employees late, and is experiencing financial trouble. TNA announcer Taz recently departed the company, and admitted he had been paid late several times. He left on good terms with the company, but his admission about getting his checks late was very telling.
These reports seem similar to the ones that plagued ECW in the late 90’s and right up to the company’s fall in 2001.
The difference between the two is that TNA seems to be better funded. They are owned by Panda Energy, and seem to be getting support from its parent network, Destination America. ECW, on the other hand, was run by Paul Heyman. Although he is one of the greatest wrestling minds ever, and is a creative Einstein when it came to booking, his business acumen was less than stellar. He ran his territory like a mom and pop shop, and eventually the train that was WWE proved to be much too strong to run from, and in 2001, the company went under.
Usually, when a company can’t pay its wrestlers on time, the prospects of the promotion staying afloat aren’t good. And its not like they have huge overhead on their roster. They have cut their payroll considerably, and seem to be trying to right the ship fiscally.
If TNA goes out of business, it would be a real shame. This company has excellent potential, and some nice pieces that could make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.
The best thing for TNA to do is look for a new buyer. One guy who could possibly bring energy and excitement to the company is Mark Cuban.
He basically turned the Dallas Mavericks from one of the NBA’s worst teams to one of the perennial contenders in basketball every year. You can see the passion in how he operates the team. He’s their biggest cheerleader, and roots them on every game. Plus, he has the cash, and it’s a real labor of love for him.
TNA needs an owner like Mark Cuban.
Another key move would be to bring in an experienced creative guy who knows what works and what doesn’t work. I’m a huge fan of Jerry Jarrett, but he’s in his early 70’s, and who knows if he even still watches wrestling today. What he and Jerry Lawler did as co-owners and co-bookers in Memphis in the 1970’s was just phenomenal.
Perhaps one thing TNA could look into is merging their promotion with another wrestling organization. I always thought it would be a good idea for them to join forces with Ring of Honor. I think you could get some really great matches out of that, and develop a talent roster that is solid and rival that of WWE someday.
It probably wouldn’t hurt to take TNA from being somewhat of a national promotion, and just mainly become a regional company. Maybe base them in Nashville, and have them tour just the main cities in the South like Memphis, Charlotte, Birmingham and Atlanta. Have a music or entertainment heavy hitter like Toby Keith or Garth Brooks put some money into their organization.
Come someone please get Mark Cuban on the phone?